Ken Paxton, Texas attorney general who said trans youth care is ‘child abuse’, faces impeachment

Ken Paxton speaking to a crowd, with a sign reading "save America" below him.

A Texas House committee has unanimously voted to recommend that attorney general Ken Paxton be removed from office.

House representatives are preparing to vote in the coming days to impeach the Republican lawyer following several accusations of corruption and wrongdoing.

The committee voted on Thursday (25 May) to make the recommendation after hearing testimony that Paxton is very likely to have repeatedly broken state laws, including misuse of official information, abuse of capacity, and retaliation.

Paxton has been under investigation by the FBI for several users over corruption allegations, including allegations that he used his office to help Republican donors.

During that time, he has helped impose a number of anti-LGBTQ+ laws, asked the supreme court to overturn president Joe Biden’s victory in 2020, and has gained further accusations of misconduct.

He has also launched numerous attacks on LGBTQ+ people, including demanding a list of every trans person in Texas, describing LGBTQ+ people as ‘sexual propagandists,‘ and traumatising the mum of a trans son over spurious child abuse investigations.

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In a statement, Paxton wrote that he believed it was a “sad day for Texas” after witnessing House committee members “attempt to overthrow the will of the people.”

He then accused the state House’s “liberal” Republican speaker, Dade Phelan, of a political attack, having recently accused Phelan of being drunk during a marathon session a week prior.

The decision to recommend impeachment reportedly stems largely from Paxton’s relationship with a Republican donor and alleged attempts to protect him from an FBI investigation.

Further alleged reports of Paxton’s misconduct, including attempts to interfere in foreclosure lawsuits and improperly issuing legal opinions to donors, have also contributed to the vote.

Final removal would require two-thirds support in a Senate vote, which includes Paxton’s wife. It is unclear when the vote could take place.

The committee also heard that state investigators initially looked into a possible $3.3 million to settle a whistleblower complaint by four senior officials who were terminated after accusing Paxton of corruption.

Committee chair Andrew Murr said the settlement would only be permissible by the state while noting that it would also blockade any chances of accusations against Paxton being litigated publicly.

“It is alarming and very serious having this discussion when millions of taxpayer dollars have been asked [for] to remedy what is alleged to be some wrong,” he said. “That’s something we have to grapple with. It’s challenging.”

Paxton’s impeachment could help mitigate the damage done to LGBTQ+ rights in Texas by loosening the influence Republicans have on the state.

While by no means an absolute win, Paxton’s willingness to subvert the community’s rights in Texas has meant pushback is incredibly difficult, and his removal from office could have significant changes across Texas and potentially the US.

Ken Paxton was complicit in Texas ‘child abuse’ investigations into the parents of trans kids

In February 2022, Paxton said that gender-affirming care for minors was “child abuse” in a 13-page legal opinion.

This empowered governor Greg Abbott to order the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services to investigate medical professionals and the parents and guardians of trans children.

Within days, at least nine probes had been opened. Legal challenges from families followed, and in September of that year a court issued a temporary injunction blocking investigations into those families.

This was later expanded to cover any family belonging to PFLAG, an LGBTQ+ parents group with more than 600 members in the state.

The case against Abbott will go to trial this autumn.

One of the parents investigated by Texas authorities, Amber Briggle, recently told PinkNews that she’s still traumatised a year on from the investigation.